ANCHORAGE (Reuters) – Alaska ferry employees and state officers have been looking for a federal mediator’s assistance on Saturday to finish a strike that has disrupted journey through the peak summer season vacationer season.
The strike, which began on Wednesday, has halted site visitors for the Alaska Marine Freeway System, the state-operated ferry system that serves 35 coastal cities, most of them with out exterior street entry.
Leaders of the union representing the ferry employees, the Inlandboatmen’s Union of the Pacific, and state officers have been scheduled to satisfy with the federal mediator Saturday afternoon.
“We hope with all our coronary heart to get again to work at this time,” stated Robb Arnold, vice chairman of the IBU’s Alaska regional board.
The union represents greater than 400 deckhands and different employees, the majority of the folks employed on the ships. Two different unions signify ship masters, mates, pilots and marine engineers; these unions are usually not on strike however are honoring the IBU’s picket strains.
Arnold stated the IBU strike is a response to a failure to safe a brand new three-year contract and what he stated was a collection of unfair labor practices. The union’s contract expired in mid-2017, however phrases have been to have been prolonged underneath interim settlement
State officers contend that the strike is against the law. In a letter despatched Friday to the union, state Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka warned that if the strike continued into August, the state would now not be paying ferry employees’ medical health insurance premiums.
The Alaska Marine Freeway System serves 33 communities in Alaska and two exterior the state: Bellingham, Washington, and Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Many of the ferry communities, together with the state capital of Juneau, may be reached solely by airplane or by boat.
As of Friday, about three,000 refunds totaling $1.2 million had been paid out for canceled ferry journey, in response to state officers.
Reporting by Yereth Rosen in Anchorage; Enhancing by Dan Whitcomb and Daniel Wallis